Are these really signs of a bad tennis lesson?

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Essential Tennis had a podcast that listed five signs you're taking a bad tennis lesson (assuming the goal of the lesson is to improve). I agree on some, but, well . . . I think he's off the mark on a couple of them. They are:

1. Lesson tries to address a bunch of different problems rather than focusing on one.
2. Lesson focuses on one stroke, but tries to deal with too many elements of the stroke.
3. Lesson focuses on quantity, not quality, of balls hit.
4. Pro doesn't give the player homework to do after the lesson.
5. Pro doesn't use video analysis.

Yes, I agree completely with points 1, 2, and 3.

For point 4, well . . . I'm the student and I was there, so I know what we worked on. Why does the pro need to tell me to remember to follow through when we just worked on follow-through for an hour? If I plan to practice and don't know how, I can always ask, right?

For point 5, I disagree strongly. Yes, video analysis is awesome and very helpful. But it is also not possible for many pros, as pros and clubs may not have the equipment (ball machine or video equipment set-up) needed for this. Is it possible to get a good, helpful, solid lesson that helps a rec player address a problem and make progress without video analysis? If so, how does the failure or inability to use video analysis mean the lesson should be labeled as "bad."

I wonder if there is something that makes a better point 5. I might nominate "too much emphasis on targets too early." In other words, if the student is using horrible mechanics to hit balls toward cones, it's a bad lesson.
 
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Cawlin

Semi-Pro
I generally agree with 4.5 of those 5 points... and I agree that your assessment should be added as the 6th point (or maybe the 5th and pushing the existing 5th down to 6th...

The homework thing is important because for a lot of people, they think the one hour lesson is "enough" and they'll "groove" things based on that... sure, I suppose you can "groove" a new stroke taking a one hour lesson per week, but the reality is that most people physiologically need tens of thousands of reps to really "groove" something. In an hour lesson, you might get 100 reps of a particular shot/skill, so I suppose you could "groove" that stroke in lessons alone, but it would take years... better to get the single factor focused on, and have the pro tell you something like "OK so now you want to go and hit a couple buckets a day of this shot, whether it's from a ball machine or a friend feeding you, and I only want you to focus on (insert subject here - i.e. shoulder turn), without worrying too much about the result... really focus each time on making a good shoulder turn and hitting within yourself..."

As for your point about using crap mechanics to hit targets - agreed - had a group lesson with a coach that was trying to get us all to develop "touch" and so had cones placed about 4 feet from the net at various places, the object was to stand on the other side of the net like mini-tennis and try to roll or slice the ball into those cones - not just catch it with a flat racket and bunt/dink it so it landed on/near the cone... the guy didn't differentiate between the people trying to hit legitimate strokes and those "gaming" the trill by just bunting the ball... some folks were intent on "winning" the drill and so resorted to garbage mechanics just to get the "atta-boy/girl"... lame.

As for video analysis - I kind of "half agree" with this, but only because I'm not sure what the scope of intended use of recording is... I think it's important, but may not be feasible for every situation and every lesson. I think video analysis needs to be worked in periodically or to drive home a new stroke or aspect of a new stroke - i.e. coach should video you doing 10 good shoulder turns, email you the video as a reminder of how you're to be practicing your shoulder turn with the homework they gave you that week...

The more lessons and coaching you get, the more video can be useful/helpful - not just for reminders, but for periodic checks of "OK where are we at now?" Say you've been working on a new forehand with your coach for several months and you feel like your mechanics are getting good... then the coach can show you the video they made on day 1 and compare to the video from the current day... and give the player a sense of how much or how little they're actually progressing. The coach can also point out "OK see how much better your shoulder turn is? Now you have that pretty well under control, we're going to work on your followthrough - see here - not nearly as good as it needs to be... now we know what to start in with next lesson...." etc.

Honestly though, video analysis is so accessible these days with smart phones, it's pretty hard to make the case that it's not worth it to use at least now and then.
 
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Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I think teaching a player how to practice is the greatest lesson a coach can give. Most players are hopeless at practice either completely ignoring/forgetting what they learned in the lesson or not practicing at all. You cannot achieve mastery of a fundamental in a one hour coaching session. It has to be achieved with focused practice away form the coach.

I think another major sign of a bad lesson is not taking the needs and desires of the student into consideration. The first 20 minutes probably should be assessing what the student wishes to achieve, how much they are going to practice, what is the state of their game as far as weaknesses and strengths.

For most 3.0-3.5 players, they'd all benefit from 90% of their lessons focused on footwork and keeping their head still through contact and ignore the actual swing entirely for the most part.

Doesn't matter how pretty your shadow swing is if you can't get set up properly and focus on the ball.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
I think perhaps point 4 is the most important .... If you don't get shown how to practice something on your own the newly found mechanical fix will disappear really fast.

Show me how to do a progression on my own with hand feeding
Show me how to use the wall to work on X or Y
Tell me that I need to do A and B for 10 minutes and then C and D for another 10 minutes
Give me a simple drill that I can use with a friend/hitting partner

On point 5 .... the ET people are way gung ho about video analysis .... ad nauseum. It is their thing. I don't disagree that it would be helpful, but don't think it makes a lesson bad if it is not there.

My other points that perhaps I would add to how to know you have a bad lesson:

Pro doesn't instruct the player to be warmed up prior to lesson, then wastes 10+ minutes of 60 minute lesson warming up

Pro has tiny hopper of dead balls. You spend more time picking them up than learning, and develop TE by hitting the rocks

Pro takes phone calls during your lesson

Student says I want to work on X, pro instead works on Y
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
The more lessons and coaching you get, the more video can be useful/helpful - not just for reminders, but for periodic checks of "OK where are we at now?" Say you've been working on a new forehand with your coach for several months and you feel like your mechanics are getting good... then the coach can show you the video they made on day 1 and compare to the video from the current day... and give the player a sense of how much or how little they're actually progressing. The coach can also point out "OK see how much better your shoulder turn is? Now you have that pretty well under control, we're going to work on your followthrough - see here - not nearly as good as it needs to be... now we know what to start in with next lesson...." etc.
Yeah, I don't think it has to be an *every* lesson thing, but I still remember a video review from twenty years ago with a pro.

I was absolutely certain I was doing everything he asked, but when we looked at the tape I simply wasn't close. People aren't nearly as capable of "tracking" complex movements of our body as we think, and that's where video is irreplaceable.

Honestly though, video analysis is so accessible these days with smart phones, it's pretty hard to make the case that it's not worth it to use at least now and then.
Absolutely. Once you've seen how you look doing it the right way, you could have your friend record you when you're practicing. Check the phone's video, and you now know exactly how it "feels" when you're hitting the shot properly. Speaking as a person whose closet contains enough rehab equipment to stock a decent medical store, it can be startling how "wrong" something feels when you're learning (or relearning) the proper way to do something. Being able to immediately confirm that it's still the proper way even when it feels off is tremendous.

For point 4, well . . . I'm the student and I was there, so I know what we worked on. Why does the pro need to tell me to remember to follow through when we just worked on follow-through for an hour? If I plan to practice and don't know how, I can always ask, right?
It's good for the pro to give you a focused recap, but you're right it should've been clear from what you're working on. I expect they're meaning a nice summary, especially if you've discussed a few things, to ensure you haven't forgotten. Not all of us have great memory :)

Because while I agree that the lesson should primarily focus on one shot, and potentially one specific aspect of it, I wouldn't expect it to be all consuming. Say I'm there to work on my backhand, and we focus on that. I still might have some minor points. Maybe looking at the second serve motion we worked on a couple weeks ago to make sure it's holding up, or talking about how I played in a recent tournament... and what I struggled with.
 

CHtennis

Rookie
I know this is a guideline of what to look for when you feel like you might be experiencing a bad tennis lesson but I dont love these items:
1. Lesson tries to address a bunch of different problems rather than focusing on one.
2. Lesson focuses on one stroke, but tries to deal with two many elements of the stroke.
3. Lesson focuses on quantity, not quality, of balls hit.
4. Pro doesn't give the player homework to do after the lesson.
5. Pro doesn't use video analysis.
There are lots of times when any of these is fine. As a 5.0 player I dont take many lessons anymore, and honestly have taught lessons more recently than I have taken (aside from a clinic every now and again). So I do think this is focused on the 3.0 lesson experience than mine perhaps. For each line item there is definitely a time when I would want a lesson like that, for example:
1) I would like a lesson that addresses a bunch of different problems if you are giving me what to work on for each and I will work on each item in practice matches or clinics at more length.
2) Again, same type of thing but even say my forehand is off and I want to work on it, giving me a little time on each element of it can really help. Now if it was a stroke rebuild or something that is different, but I have had times when I needed a little tweaking to get my forehand back to where I want it, but dont need a lot of time on each element.
3) I feel like I am different here, but I want to maximize reps in a lesson. I want the pro to tell me each stroke when I am doing it right and when I am doing it wrong, so I get how it feels when I am doing it correctly. This may be because of my level, but I dont want to discuss strategy during a lesson but work on strokes (this may just be me, since I talk to my buddies about strategy a lot I dont need that from a tennis pro). I want the most reps and tell my pros that because a lot of lessons I have had my pro will talk at me too much and I feel like I dont get enough time to get the feel of what he or she wants of me. This seems to be just me though, having been a tennis pro, a lot of people do want to be talked at and discuss strategy, stroke production and really anything.
4) I was going to say that I dont need homework but @Cindysphinx said this very well
I'm the student and I was there, so I know what we worked on. Why does the pro need to tell me to remember to follow through when we just worked on follow-through for an hour? If I plan to practice and don't know how, I can always ask, right?
5) Agree with people that they should use video sometimes, so if they never use video then possibly agree, but it is just one tool and I have found some people really dont like seeing themselves on video and have trouble analyzing it from a technical perspective.

Really, I like @OnTheLine's version of this
Pro doesn't instruct the player to be warmed up prior to lesson, then wastes 10+ minutes of 60 minute lesson warming up

Pro has tiny hopper of dead balls. You spend more time picking them up than learning, and develop TE by hitting the rocks

Pro takes phone calls during your lesson

Student says I want to work on X, pro instead works on Y
I have always found the most successful lessons being ones where the player has an idea of what they want to work on. While that might be lazy of me as a tennis pro, I never minded coming up with a individualized lesson plan for someone, but when someone wanted to do specific things during a lesson and communicated that, then those lessons were usually most productive. With that in mind, I always have something I want to work on in a lesson. Just like in school engaging your teacher to talk about what is best for you and having a plan in place for each lesson is usually best use of time. I find these are the best lessons. I really want a pro that is responsive to what I want to work on but it is on me to communicate that in a clear way.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I do think some of this depends on the relationship between the pro and the student, or lack thereof. A lesson with a student who just walked in the door is different than one who has worked with the pro a lot.

For example, I've been with my pro for a long time. He knows my strokes and my many problems. Some lessons are for trouble-shooting, and we can do this quickly. Like, my FH return went off the rails in a match recently and I couldn't figure out why. I asked the pro, he fed me a couple of balls, spotted the problem. I said, "Oh, yeah," we fixed it with a few more feeds, and we were on to the next thing.

Regarding OnTheLine's list, yeah, those are awful. So awful that I hardly ever see them happen, thank goodness.

The other thing I would add to the list is "praising non-repeatable shot." Like, student takes a wild, off-balance hack that happens to find the court. Pro says, "Good shot!" Um, no it wasn't, and if the student thinks it was, that may be the time to talk about consistency and repeat-ability, etc.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
For example, I've been with my pro for a long time. He knows my strokes and my many problems. Some lessons are for trouble-shooting, and we can do this quickly. Like, my FH return went off the rails in a match recently and I couldn't figure out why. I asked the pro, he fed me a couple of balls, spotted the problem. I said, "Oh, yeah," we fixed it with a few more feeds, and we were on to the next thing.
Can you publish a list of all the tips that you have received which have helped your game? I don't want to spent money on lessons so I want to know what I am missing (for free).
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Well, in that case with the FH, I somehow got it into my head that I didn't need to do the footwork to move out for wide balls and was reaching. I've been playing a lot lately, and the FH return is back to where it is supposed to be.

My longer-term project is to use my LH and my FH and stop dropping it down during the swing as though I'd just suffered a mini-stroke. I've almost got the muscle memory on it, thankfully.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
^^^ Nice pun on stroke there

Remember to recover from your stroke, like Rod Laver did.

Insensitive joke that one.
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
Well, in that case with the FH, I somehow got it into my head that I didn't need to do the footwork to move out for wide balls and was reaching.
If you had to name one thing that every rec tennis player could improve, I bet the safest choice would be footwork.

I've got a tendency to go the opposite way, where I'll let forehands get too close to my body, which keeps me from being able to have an ideal swing. Or I'll compensate by playing the ball further in front of me, but when I try to go down the line it's almost impossible.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
If you had to name one thing that every rec tennis player could improve, I bet the safest choice would be footwork.

I've got a tendency to go the opposite way, where I'll let forehands get too close to my body, which keeps me from being able to have an ideal swing. Or I'll compensate by playing the ball further in front of me, but when I try to go down the line it's almost impossible.
100% truth.
If I am running from deuce corner to ad corner .... I will so often over run and suddenly allow myself to be cramped on the backhand ..... if I remind myself not to panic, it is all so much better.

The footwork or lack thereof is most exposed by people's (even pros) overheads.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
I guess that's what you'd expect from someone trying to make money from teaching tennis online.

Another list might go:

1. Didn't give real time feedback on every stroke
2. Didn't hit enough balls with instant examples of what I should do
3. Didn't notice where the sun was because they weren't there
4. Didn't adapt to my needs but rather read from a script
5. Didn't come for a beer afterwards
 

Powderwombat

Semi-Pro
Essential Tennis rely way way too much on video analysis. Most of the lessons you see Ian just pull up a video of Federer and say here's how federer hits this shot - just do what he does.
 
...just pull up a video of Federer and say here's how federer hits this shot - just do what he does.
Can't possibly go wrong with attempting to do whatever RFed does--(or Pete)--watch his technique for each stroke, 50 times, in slo-mo, then visualize and hit a million balls--you'll get more out of it then what passes for tennis lessons by 99 out of 100 "pros"--won't cost you a penny, and won't learn any bad habits or "the modern game of tennis," B.S.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
100% truth.
If I am running from deuce corner to ad corner .... I will so often over run and suddenly allow myself to be cramped on the backhand ..... if I remind myself not to panic, it is all so much better.

The footwork or lack thereof is most exposed by people's (even pros) overheads.
As Jolly has said, the difference with pros and amateurs footwork is that pros start fast then slow down near the ball and amatuers start slow and speed up as they approach the ball. That kind of reaction issue shows up with getting too close to the ball.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
I teach a lot of lessons to a lot of different people with different goals. The lessons are very different depending on the wants and needs of the player and where they are in their schedule and skill development.

Here are examples of when you would do all of the bad lesson things.

1. Person is on vacation and visiting your club, has heard good things about you and asks you to take a look at his game, and after you give him the once over let him know what you think he should work on in his practices.

2. Person says they are on a mission to make their serve better this summer, but want a lesson first so that they know what to work on in their practice.

3. Person says they just want to get some exercise, run around and hit a lot of balls. If wanting to improve it could be training reflex volleys.

4. Homework? Takeaways maybe. Go tell all your lessons to go hit half an hour of cross court backhands before your next lesson and let me know how that works out for you. 80% of rec players don't even warm up their serves for matches and just say FBI and start hacking away, you think they are going to go out and hit a hopper of serves after work?

5. Video analysis is a tool, you use tools as needed to solve problems. A 3.0 hitting backhands with an eastern forehand grip and wondering why the ball goes up to the sky doesn't need video analysis. A 4 year old hitting red balls doesn't need video analysis. A higher level player with something resembling a real tennis stroke might benefit from video, but even for them I only do once a month or so. Imagine taking a fat 4.0 with a frying pan grip serve and saying "Ok, here is you on the left, and Pete Sampras on the right." Give me a break.

J
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I teach a lot of lessons to a lot of different people with different goals. The lessons are very different depending on the wants and needs of the player and where they are in their schedule and skill development.

Here are examples of when you would do all of the bad lesson things.

1. Person is on vacation and visiting your club, has heard good things about you and asks you to take a look at his game, and after you give him the once over let him know what you think he should work on in his practices.

2. Person says they are on a mission to make their serve better this summer, but want a lesson first so that they know what to work on in their practice.

3. Person says they just want to get some exercise, run around and hit a lot of balls. If wanting to improve it could be training reflex volleys.

4. Homework? Takeaways maybe. Go tell all your lessons to go hit half an hour of cross court backhands before your next lesson and let me know how that works out for you. 80% of rec players don't even warm up their serves for matches and just say FBI and start hacking away, you think they are going to go out and hit a hopper of serves after work?

5. Video analysis is a tool, you use tools as needed to solve problems. A 3.0 hitting backhands with an eastern forehand grip and wondering why the ball goes up to the sky doesn't need video analysis. A 4 year old hitting red balls doesn't need video analysis. A higher level player with something resembling a real tennis stroke might benefit from video, but even for them I only do once a month or so. Imagine taking a fat 4.0 with a frying pan grip serve and saying "Ok, here is you on the left, and Pete Sampras on the right." Give me a break.

J
Yes, these are the common scenarios we see at the Jolliterri Academy.
 

Badmrfrosty

Rookie
If a player saw how they looked on video, they would probably never pick up a racket again--unless they were a complete narcissist.
Or they would completely focus on their form at the exclusion of winning then go on forums and constantly talk about themselves and their workouts.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
Really a lot of it depends on the student - not just their actual level, but their personal learning style too...

For me, I can often see a technique and "just do it" - I need reps of doing it correctly so that I can have the memory of how that feels so that I can go and drill on that technique on my own (which I actually do).

My wife cannot "just do" a new technique - she does not have the same sort of athletic control and/or awareness of her body in space, so it's much more tedious for her to learn a thing - plus she's also impatient as hell and won't do repetitive drilling for very long at all.

If a coach can't adjust to these differences, for some students, they will be a great coach, for others, not so much.

I had to tell my present coach:

"Look, you see me getting frustrated here, right? That's because when I hit one ball wrong, you stop and spend 45 to 90 seconds telling me what I already know, instead of the two or three words that would confirm what I already know - 'not enough shoulder turn', or whatever - I know I messed up the shoulder turn, and even if I don't know that, if you know it and just say "more shoulder turn" I know what that means and will try to do it on the next ball... I don't need to hear about how to get into a zen place, and have intention with my shots and so on and so forth... feed me more shots so I can prove to myself and to you that I know how much shoulder turn I need to execute, and THEN you'll see me get into my zen place, got it?"
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
"Look, you see me getting frustrated here, right? That's because when I hit one ball wrong, you stop and spend 45 to 90 seconds telling me what I already know, instead of the two or three words that would confirm what I already know - 'not enough shoulder turn', or whatever - I know I messed up the shoulder turn, and even if I don't know that, if you know it and just say "more shoulder turn" I know what that means and will try to do it on the next ball... I don't need to hear about how to get into a zen place, and have intention with my shots and so on and so forth... feed me more shots so I can prove to myself and to you that I know how much shoulder turn I need to execute, and THEN you'll see me get into my zen place, got it?"
AHAHAHA!

My pro has never uttered the word "zen" in my presence. English is his second language, so "more shoulder turn" would be quite wordy for him.

You need to find yourself a pro who just learned English last week. :-D
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
AHAHAHA!

My pro has never uttered the word "zen" in my presence. English is his second language, so "more shoulder turn" would be quite wordy for him.

You need to find yourself a pro who just learned English last week. :-D
My coach learned all the swear words in English first, then started filling in the other blanks.

J
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
4. Homework? Takeaways maybe. Go tell all your lessons to go hit half an hour of cross court backhands before your next lesson and let me know how that works out for you. 80% of rec players don't even warm up their serves for matches and just say FBI and start hacking away, you think they are going to go out and hit a hopper of serves after work?

5. Video analysis is a tool, you use tools as needed to solve problems. A 3.0 hitting backhands with an eastern forehand grip and wondering why the ball goes up to the sky doesn't need video analysis. A 4 year old hitting red balls doesn't need video analysis. A higher level player with something resembling a real tennis stroke might benefit from video, but even for them I only do once a month or so. Imagine taking a fat 4.0 with a frying pan grip serve and saying "Ok, here is you on the left, and Pete Sampras on the right." Give me a break.

J
4. When it comes to athletics (and basically nothing else) I am very obedient. I want to be told go do X and Y this way for this amount of time X times per week ..... for me this is part of what I really want in a lesson.

5. What kills me is seeing the ET VIP lessons with a 50+ year old woman and then show Djoker as supposedly her blueprint. Why? No 50 year old 5'2" woman can ever serve like him. Ever. Not. Going. To. Happen. Why not show a benchmark player that perhaps she could emulate ... say Barty or Halep

On video in general, if I were to really see myself playing, it might be the kill shot that keeps me off the courts permanently.

In my mind I am fluid and strong. It is part of why I find so much joy out there.
On video, I am likely lumpy, jerky and pathetic.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
4. Homework? Takeaways maybe. Go tell all your lessons to go hit half an hour of cross court backhands before your next lesson and let me know how that works out for you. 80% of rec players don't even warm up their serves for matches and just say FBI and start hacking away, you think they are going to go out and hit a hopper of serves after work?
In addition to the fact that the 30 minutes of BHs crosscourt won't happen, it is counterproductive to the pro to say "Go do X before your next lesson." Student might decide not to have a lesson until X is done; student will never do X; student will feel reluctant to schedule another lesson not having done X. Pro makes less money.

I guess the real question is what to make of students who cannot or will not practice. I still think a student will progress more taking lessons and not practicing than in not taking lessons at all.

More specifically, I was very enthusiastic when I started playing and took a lot lot lot of lessons. I never practiced anything but my serve for lack of a hitting partner, but I played a lot of matches. I got better slowly. It wasn't until I got a good hitting partner that I really worked some stuff out.

So I wouldn't say Ian is correct that it is a bad lesson if you don't get homework or don't do the homework you were given. Instruction is generally slightly better than no instruction, I think
 
Everything Ian says is spot on.
He is the best internet tennis coach out there.
He totally totally gets the context about why adult rec tennis players rarely improve.

If you disagree with Ian, it means you're not on his level.
The guy has been coaching tennis for almost 2 decades and knows his ****.

Best podcast and channel on the entire internet
 
If you're not getting video analysis, you are wasting your time. Period.
I hit with a guy recently who has no idea what his body was actually doing.

He was doing X.
I said do Y.
He did it, and did X, and said, "Yes, I am now doing Y"
He was not doing Y, but thought he was.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to know what your body is doing
This is why ROGER ****ING FEDERER has a coach who shows him video.

Muscle memory is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to break
Most people are stuck with their early strokes for life
 
I do like his podcast. He's actually very good at communication.

That bit about a lesson being "bad" if the coach doesn't use video feels like marketing.
Dead wrong, he is not marketing, but I get why you think that.
His marketing is putting out the top tennis content on the entire internet.

His niche is narrow. $3000 for a tennis lesson.
He does not need to market.
HE is telling you to tell YOUR coach to use video.
He does not need your business.

Ian is one of the few coaches who has taken the time to learn how learning works.
Watch his lesson videos. He breaks down the action where you're not even holding a racket.

He is VERY careful about bashing tennis coaches,
but 90% of tennis coaches are absolute trash and has jack **** for results with their students.


Why almost no tennis coaches can actually coach worth a damn.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
In addition to the fact that the 30 minutes of BHs crosscourt won't happen, it is counterproductive to the pro to say "Go do X before your next lesson." Student might decide not to have a lesson until X is done; student will never do X; student will feel reluctant to schedule another lesson not having done X. Pro makes less money.

I guess the real question is what to make of students who cannot or will not practice. I still think a student will progress more taking lessons and not practicing than in not taking lessons at all.

More specifically, I was very enthusiastic when I started playing and took a lot lot lot of lessons. I never practiced anything but my serve for lack of a hitting partner, but I played a lot of matches. I got better slowly. It wasn't until I got a good hitting partner that I really worked some stuff out.

So I wouldn't say Ian is correct that it is a bad lesson if you don't get homework or don't do the homework you were given. Instruction is generally slightly better than no instruction, I think
Homework or no homework does not matter. The student who doesn't do the homework will sheepishly make up some excuse and the pro will go along with it. If the pro is still anal about it (which is very unlikely given that they want the money), and works at a club, asking an innocent question to any club executive like "Is it your policy that students who are busy and cannot practice often are not welcome at this club?" will have the pro on the way out.

If the pro confuses recreational tennis (in which the student is actually paying him for something that is freely available on the Internet) with a college Professorship, time to say bye bye.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
That bit about a lesson being "bad" if the coach doesn't use video feels like marketing.
Of course it's marketing, but sometimes even marketing can have some basis in fact.

The first time I saw myself play it was a revelation. That was late 70s or early 80s and the camera was the size of a briefcase.

Does that mean the lessons I had before that were rubbish? Does that mean Harry Hopman was a bad coach?
 
It's really not marketing.
Listen to a few dozen episodes and you'll see.
He hates to criticize others, but there is no other way to get the point across.
If you're trying to learn real tennis strokes, you have NO IDEA what your body is doing until you see it.
This is the single greatest truth in tennis development.
He's not marketing. He's telling you how to get better.
Take it or leave it.
He is telling you to tell YOUR coach to learn how to use video.
Most coaches don't know jack **** about how tennis is learned.
 
Homework or no homework does not matter. The student who doesn't do the homework will sheepishly make up some excuse and the pro will go along with it. If the pro is still anal about it (which is very unlikely given that they want the money), and works at a club, asking an innocent question to any club executive like "Is it your policy that students who are busy and cannot practice often are not welcome at this club?" will have the pro on the way out.

If the pro confuses recreational tennis (in which the student is actually paying him for something that is freely available on the Internet) with a college Professorship, time to say bye bye.
If you think lessons are about "tips", you don't know anything about how to develop real tennis strokes.
Tips are 1%
Reps are 99%
 

megamind

Legend
I teach a lot of lessons to a lot of different people with different goals. The lessons are very different depending on the wants and needs of the player and where they are in their schedule and skill development.

Here are examples of when you would do all of the bad lesson things.

1. Person is on vacation and visiting your club, has heard good things about you and asks you to take a look at his game, and after you give him the once over let him know what you think he should work on in his practices.

2. Person says they are on a mission to make their serve better this summer, but want a lesson first so that they know what to work on in their practice.

3. Person says they just want to get some exercise, run around and hit a lot of balls. If wanting to improve it could be training reflex volleys.

4. Homework? Takeaways maybe. Go tell all your lessons to go hit half an hour of cross court backhands before your next lesson and let me know how that works out for you. 80% of rec players don't even warm up their serves for matches and just say FBI and start hacking away, you think they are going to go out and hit a hopper of serves after work?

5. Video analysis is a tool, you use tools as needed to solve problems. A 3.0 hitting backhands with an eastern forehand grip and wondering why the ball goes up to the sky doesn't need video analysis. A 4 year old hitting red balls doesn't need video analysis. A higher level player with something resembling a real tennis stroke might benefit from video, but even for them I only do once a month or so. Imagine taking a fat 4.0 with a frying pan grip serve and saying "Ok, here is you on the left, and Pete Sampras on the right." Give me a break.

J

thank u for being a sane poster, in this world of insanity we live in
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
I'm a fan of video, the term I used was "revelation" to describe seeing myself for the first time.

The reason it was such a revelation was because I had thought I was doing all these terrible things and had all these problems with my swings.

It turned out that I was very pleasantly surprised. Not perfect, of course .. but I could see what all the great coaching I'd received (without video) had done for me.

I'd sooner have the amazing coaches I had access to as a kid stand there and show me what to do without video than a lesser person (I have NFI who essential tennis is, so don't direct that towards them) send me some video analysis because that's the only way to develop good tennis strokes, because it's not. A great tool? Yes .. but no replacement for what the Fancutts, Hollis's, Shepherds, etc could offer.

I'd give up a thousand hours of video analysis with anyone to spend an hour with the late Harry Hopman.
 
The number one sign of a bad tennis lesson, and I see this constantly on adjoining courts
is the lazy coach just letting the student repeatedly make flawed reps.
These people are paying to get worse, and develop incorrect muscle memory.

Most people have no idea they are getting garbage lessons.
It takes a lot of experience to know how to take lessons.
 
Ian's #1 sign is dead on.
When I take a lesson, I only focus on one thing for the entire hour. (volleys for an hour. BH for an hour. Serve return for an hour)
When the coach tries to introduce idiotic "games", I tell him that I don't need to be entertained.
I am paying to drill. I want to be bored. Bored is mastery.
I also avoid drilling strokes I am best at, or can do with friends.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Figure I would share that I had a particularly great lesson today. Work had ticked me off this morning so took a personal 1/2 day and a 90 minute private lesson.

I did a 90 minute group clinic so that I was warmed up before hand

Started with BH slice progression as I am working on a BH chip lob ... from hand feeds at service line to baseline, then fed balls at increasing pace but with me stationary ... ending with my having to move from center to ad court for the shot then from deuce court to ad for it. Felt exceptional about how far I got with it and felt pretty grooved.

Then went to bh TS ... alternating with slice and chip lob ... being able to alternate between the 2HBH TS, 1HBH slice and 1HBH chip lob

Some work on serve ... currently my T serve is solid but I am having trouble finding my wide serves ... like they went on walk about. After some review pro had me alter my toss a little more to my right and a little lower ... started firing nicely.

Finished with a a lot of serve plus 1 .... I wanted the return to go hard and deep to my backhand .... working on my recovery and movement post-serve ... and putting into play the BH chip lob, slice and TS we were working on.

I have some homework .... drop feeding for the chip lob and working on my serve plus the footwork for recovery ...

Happy day. 3 hours well spent.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
The number one sign of a bad tennis lesson, and I see this constantly on adjoining courts
is the lazy coach just letting the student repeatedly make flawed reps.
These people are paying to get worse, and develop incorrect muscle memory.
I agree with that completely, which is why I can't fathom how online tennis instruction works.

I know from experience that you can tell someone to do something .. and almost every time they think they've fixed the problem first try, but they haven't and it can take minutes (or weeks :-D) of constant feedback until they get it.
 

MisterP

Hall of Fame
If you have a phone made in the last 5 years, you can shoot video with a $20 tripod and phone mount.
 
I agree with that completely, which is why I can't fathom how online tennis instruction works.

I know from experience that you can tell someone to do something .. and almost every time they think they've fixed the problem first try, but they haven't and it can take minutes (or weeks :-D) of constant feedback until they get it.
It doesn't.
Online tennis lessons are a mirage for the clueless who do not know how learning works.

If watching tennis lessons helped, everyone would be a 5.0

Everyone knows a guy who has watched 5000 hours of youtube lessons
and still has garbage strokes, and is always chasing his tail.

You can get some ideas on what to try,
but it takes months of supervision before you start doing it independently.
It takes months of reps to start building muscle memory.
Without supervision, you will go back to your old unconscious way within 3 reps.
I have yet to meet anyone who can sustain a new move for more than 5 reps without having to be reminded.
Most don;t make it past 3

Most tennis players are clueless lose causes.
They spend their lives chasing their tails.
It's really sad, but most are ignorant about what it takes to learn real tennis.

Serious players do not dick around with internet lessons.
They work with a coach and have a long term plan

Federer still takes lessons after winning 20 slams
 

Powderwombat

Semi-Pro
Jesus this thread...you don't need video. If your coach is worth his salt he will GIVE FEEDBACK as to whether you're doing what he's saying or not doing it. You don't need to see yourself doing it if you have a coach there.

It really comes off like Ian is just using pros as his only knowledge of how to play the game, like he doesn't actually know the fundamentals and is just like "Wawrinka has probably the best OHBH in the world, I'll pull up a video of him and tell my students to just copy it".

Good luck getting some of the absolute hackers he has on to start hitting like Wawa. He uses video way too much and it comes off like an absolute crutch, he spends like half the lesson watching his frickin ipad with the student of someone else hitting a ball!

Rofl no thanks.
 

DCNJ

New User
It really comes off like Ian is just using pros as his only knowledge of how to play the game, like he doesn't actually know the fundamentals and is just like "Wawrinka has probably the best OHBH in the world, I'll pull up a video of him and tell my students to just copy it".
You've made this gross oversimplification twice.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Serious players do not dick around with internet lessons.
They work with a coach and have a long term plan
You seem to have a very "all or nothing" approach to life. Part of maturing as an adult is learning to see the world in shades of grey rather than black and white.

In an ideal world every gets tennis lessons from a top notch coach and improves by leaps and bounds. In the real world of tenuous financial situations, job and family committments and various skill levels, learning tennis is more nuanced.

If you are serious about tennis but have more time than money, how do you learn? The "Work with a Coach" option is expensive. Our coaches charge $75 an hour. People working hard to cover rent can't afford that. So watching some free internet lessons, videoing yourself with your cellphone and reviewing it, is a viable option for a serious player to improve in the setting of low financial means.

Lots of good stuff on the internet. I've had lessons from coaches and looked at a lot of video lessons. I'd say I've learned more useful things from Youtube than from the coaches. It's just the coaches can hone down to your problems quicker. But if you video analyze yourself you can quickly see the flaws too if you have an eye for that sort of thing.
 
You've made this gross oversimplification twice.
He has no clue what he's talking about.
Ian is a master coach, and people fly in from other states and pay $2000 to learn from him.
Why? Because he's proven in his videos that he is one of the rare few who have a clue about how tennis is learned.
 
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DCNJ

New User
Jesus this thread...you don't need video. If your coach is worth his salt he will GIVE FEEDBACK as to whether you're doing what he's saying or not doing it. You don't need to see yourself doing it if you have a coach there.

It really comes off like Ian is just using pros as his only knowledge of how to play the game, like he doesn't actually know the fundamentals and is just like "Wawrinka has probably the best OHBH in the world, I'll pull up a video of him and tell my students to just copy it".

Good luck getting some of the absolute hackers he has on to start hitting like Wawa. He uses video way too much and it comes off like an absolute crutch, he spends like half the lesson watching his frickin ipad with the student of someone else hitting a ball!

Rofl no thanks.
You've made this gross oversimplification twice.
To expand on this, what it seems like Ian is doing is the following:

1. Find an issue with a student's swing.
2. Place video of the student next to the video of a good example, using approximately the same angle.
3. Demonstrate the similarities and differences between the swings.

Now, yes, he does use Fed, Stan (I think...), Novak, and others to demonstrate good technique. But what do you want, bad examples? Examples where they're doing that part right, and something else wrong? My guess is he knows there's a few go-to examples, which he can bring up to demonstrate the correct technique for anything bad, so he doesn't have to search for or remember bits and pieces.

He also demonstrates things, instead of saying 'just do this'. He'll indicate, for one example, where the middle of the racquet is at its lowest point, at contact, and in the follow through if he's noticed a student not swinging with the correct path to generate topspin. Both for the student's swing and with the good example swing. That's probably much better than trying to describe something (though it can be used in conjunction with that) and better than a coach demonstrating, since the video can be paused, played in slow motion, etc.

And I would also ask, how do you know the fraction of time spent on that? We see edited versions of the lessons on YouTube...and it's probably edited for interest; we don't need to see 40 shadow swings (if there were that many), where 4-5 would suffice.

I wouldn't say video needs to be used, or used for every lesson. I've done well in my progress with very little video analysis. But it seems you've got quite an axe to grind, for some reason.
 
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